Sunday, October 30, 2011

The joy of boys.

Not long ago, I wrote a blog about the challenges of teaching some advanced material to Zach, Noah and Caleb. The work isn't getting easier as we move ahead, but upon further consideration, I've realized that there are a lot of perks in spending extended amounts of time with 3 boys. The following is a running list of some of the joys I've experienced over the past 2 months with this terrific trio.

- I never have to fret when I encounter an uninvited critter in my apartment or the classroom. It may require a delayed start to the school day, but the boys have never let me (or the neighbours) down once with their efficient removal/disposal services.

- Cute baby goats!

- My aim is getting better. The last BB war we had, I shot Zach from a fair distance! They still have to give me extra lives so that I can play longer (I have the battle scars to prove it), but you've got to start somewhere, right? Reload.

- Going along with the battle theme, the boys have been teaching me the basics of Halo. So far I can successfully shoot backwards while running, jump onto higher platforms and use a jet pack. Now that's certainly a step up from MarioKart!

- Whether it be calling one of the digestive parts the 'ball gladder', taking apart calculators at recess, eating handfuls of soda crackers, and turning just about anything into a competition, they always keep me fully amused.

- Tomorrow's another day... Guaranteed another adventure.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The purple dress.

You may remember me writing about May 2, 2009, the day my cousins Erin and Jesse got married. Looking back, that was probably one of my hardest weekends to be in Haiti, knowing that there would be such a great party happening for them back on Canadian soil, and feeling so far away. But, thanks to my genius Uncle Rand and a strong Skype connection, I got to watch my beautiful cousins and friends enter in their purple gowns, and then I bawled uncontrollably as Uncle Pauly led Erin into the sanctuary while the pianist played a 'How beautiful' melody. For the record, I realized in that moment of running for kleenexes that it was probably a blessing I wasn't at the front of the church!

Fast forward 3 years... Following their engagement, my dear friend Sidonie and her fiancee, Mike set their wedding day for October 22, 2011. This past summer I got an e-mail from Sidonie, asking me to purchase a purple dress to be a part of their processional. With only a few weeks left before I was returning to Haiti, I began searching the stores for something suitable to wear with no luck. Finally, it dawned on mom that most of the bridesmaids from Erin's wedding still had their dresses unaltered - purple dresses! Thankfully we've all got the same body type, so it wasn't long before I was doing fittings with Cort and Kels, and then loading up the borrowed dress in my car. Upon my arrival in Haiti, I hung it up in my closet and waited for the day to arrive....

And what a day it was! I was so honoured to participate in the opening processional with Sidonie's other sisters, cousins and close friends. I was paired with Robenson, and we followed the Haitian tradition by doing a dancey-type of march down the aisle. Throughout the week we had received some coaching on this and did a few practices together, which is another story, but it definitely added to the experience! Robenson is pretty shy to begin with, so the whole idea of walking in front of a large crowd of people wasn't exactly his cup of tea. As we practiced though, I could sense his confidence growing, and yesterday just after we were seated from our entrance, I glanced over at him - He was beaming and giving me a big thumbs up. Success! :)

Following the vows, prayers, and a huge cheer for the kiss, we all made our way over to the cafeteria for a Haitian feast (including crab and lobster - yum!), with music and a lot more pictures. Unfortunately due to a poor internet connection that we've had over recent weeks, I am not able to include any with this blog, but I'll be doing my best to upload a few favourites when the connection cooperates.

Scrolling through all of my snapshots from the day, I realize how blessed I am to be a part of such a wonderful group of people, and what wonderful memories were made!
At the end of the night when I reached my apartment, I looked at my reflection and smiled. Even though I was unable to wear this same purple dress for the Moore/Czepek wedding a few springs ago, the Lord provided such a fantastic substitute. A substitute that I never would have imagined, but then again - He's really a master at unexpected blessings!
And a little shout out to Erin, Cort and Kels... Thanks for letting me carry on the purple dress! :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Leaning curve.

I feel like I hit this wall every year... What did I sign up for?!
And it's about that time again... When the back to school hype ends along with the review lessons. And there are still 8 and a half months to go.

To be honest, I kind of thought I had it in the bag this fall... Only 3 boys, that I already knew well, and curriculum that covered all the bases. Not much to fret, right?
Hmmm... Wrong.

You see, there's a reason why I chose to specialize in elementary education. Teaching the basics like how to write your name, how to tie your shoes and counting up to 20 is right up my alley. Because I already know it like the back of my hand... There's no studying after hours.

But when you teach grade 6, 7 and 8, not all of it is the common sense that I'm used to teaching. Not at all. Today it stopped me in my tracks. And I began to look back on my commitment to teach these guys last year wondering - What was I thinking?

This year, more than ever, I'm on a learning curve. I'm reading up on the digestive system and mapping strategies while I chat on Skype. I'm analyzing my devotional books for prepositional phrases and subjective complements. I'm practicing algebraic formulas in the margins of my journal.
But even more than a learning curve, I'm realizing that it's a leaning curve, because ultimately I know that I just don't have what it takes to master this stuff. Broc (my brother) got all of the book smart genes between the two of us, and no matter how many hours I pour into studying, there are always pieces that I miss.

And so as I strive for the understanding that will help my boys get through the next lesson or the next test, I'm depending ever more desperately on the Lord to be my confidence, my direction, and ultimately my peace that He will get them through. That despite my knack for retaining all the pertinent facts, that He would provide for us as a class and that we would grow stronger together in Him. Through learning and through leaning.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Live it like a song.

There have been so many of my highly-anticipated albums released over the past few weeks... My iPod has to be synced every couple of days because of all the sweet music coming out from NeedtoBreathe, Switchfoot, Ben Rector, Gungor, Leeland and more. Music is one of the few things that is easier to keep up with on in this island, and for that I am very grateful.
For our past weekend journey to Jacmel, I made up a little playlist for the road trip with some of my recent favs and on the twisty drive home through the mountains I plugged in. I didn't have the songs in any particular order, but it quickly occurred to me how they were all playing towards the same message - as if I had spent hours working on directing them towards the same theme.

Lyrics like 'wake on up from your slumber', 'one man wakes with dawn in his eyes, surely then it multiplies' and 'why would I wait till I die to come alive'?

Notice the trend?
Ironically, the music that I have collected to make my life a little rosier has actually become my greatest discomfort and conviction. As I've cranked up the volume and hummed along with the words, I've actually grown more and more aware of my need to make these lyrics a reality... Stepping beyond comfort lines and pouring out myself moment by moment. And that just isn't what I was planning on when I downloaded them.

In our Bible study over the past few weeks, we've been talking about what it means to follow Jesus and we've been honest that it's easy to cop-out to the tough stuff because we live in Haiti. After living here for 3+ years, I admit that it's really not that uncomfortable anymore. But when I feel the Lord nudging me to step out in something new as He's been doing, I hesitate because I think I've already gone far enough.

I am beginning to accept that there is always more to life than what we're living. And based on the discomfort I feel from the messages of some of these songs, I know that the Lord is working on me in this. Asking me to loosen my grip on the predictability around me and opening my eyes to new growth ahead, which will only cause me to lean on Him a little harder.
The good news is that He is patient, and never loses hope in me. But the more I put things off and claim my rights to comfort, the more I am missing out on the fullness of the story.
It's my prayer that as these lyrics sink into my heart, that I wouldn't just sing them, but be completely awakened and have renewed vision, so that as Switchfoot sings, I may live it like a song.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Highlight of my day.

No, it wasn't being greeted by this once-alive creature (placed ever so carefully in position on my doormat by Zach and Noah).

... Now that I think about it, it's probably about time I start assigning homework. Something better to do with their time than think up pranks for their helpless teacher! ;)

Actually, the highlight of my day was seeing Marie Rose and Senson walking up to the clinic with their class this afternoon. Here's why.
This week, there is a medical team that is giving out free typhoid vaccines to the School of Hope students, Haitian and North American mission staff and everyone and anyone in between. I took a pit stop at the clinic on my way down to 3cords today to get a booster for myself as well. But as Brianna and I ascended the hill on her four-wheeler after saying goodbye to the ladies a few hours later, we passed a class of about 40 children - all dressed in their uniforms, with a teacher at the front of the line leading them along the roadside up to the clinic. First, I spotted Iverson and Stevenson (both Hope House kids) at the back of the line and Brianna and I called out greetings to them as we drove by. While we were passing, I heard my name and glanced back again thinking that it was one of the boys... Who did my eyes fall upon but SENSON, gazing up at me with bright eyes and a wide smile. There he was, amidst the other kids going for his vaccine. Such a simple exercise, but so significant in my mind. And then just as my gaze left Senson I saw Marie Rose up in the line just a few steps ahead of him, showing off her famous grin. I lifted both hands and almost fell off the ATV - ridiculous? yes. Embarrassed? not really.
Even now, I can hardly express the fullness of my heart that these sweet children are a part of real classroom. And not only do they get to learn, but they get access to the programs and benefits of the other ministries happening around the mission.

Tonight, my arm is a little bit tender - evidence of the prick of a needle earlier today. But what's neat to me is that 'my kids' are also probably feeling similar symptoms - all of which will be cleared up by morning, but immunization from disease that will last for years to come. We are in this together... How cool is that?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A thousand words.

I spent this past weekend visiting Jacmel, a beautiful beach town on the southern coast of Haiti. Pictures and words could never justify these views, but here's a try.
... If you're ever in the area, I really recommend you checking it out for yourself!

It also just so happens to be Canadian thanksgiving weekend... In keeping with the pictures and memories of the past few days, I am so very grateful to serve such a marvellously creative God.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Today, every spot of shade, every inch of the basketball court, and every sidewalk is overflowing with children big and small, embarking on day two of a new school year. The little black penny loafers and white hair barrettes and ribbons are in abundance. And every child that approached me in their cute little uniform brought a wide smile to my face.
Because it's more than new backpacks and sharp pencils. It's more than a fresh haircut or the plaid uniform pattern. It's children who get to begin a new trend for their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. The opportunity to gain knowledge, grow in wisdom, and eventually graduate from one of the most highly-esteemed schools in the country. It's teachers and a Christian curriculum that will tangibly transform lives. It's a new generation of literacy.
And for Peterson,

Senson, Dida, Marie Rose and Jean Bathel,

this is a hopeful future, just as the Lord promises in Jeremiah 29:11. And I believe this is just the start.

Over the next few weeks, the Mission of Hope will be running a school sponsorship campaign for the 1444 children (53% of the currently enrolled students) who do not yet have sponsors. Peterson, Dida, Senson, Marie Rose and Jean Bathel fall into this category, amongst the hundreds of others. If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of one of these children, please contact me or e-mail Katy at the MOH office (
Thank you for partnering with the future generation of Haiti!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I just took a step back in time as I scrolled through my blog archive to October 2009, the month that I first met the mountain children. Reading that post, I can still relive every helpless emotion that I felt as my feet trudged back up the hill that evening. I was desperate for a solution... Little did I know that the Lord was calling me to be a part of it.

Since that time, by the grace of God, I've been able to connect and build relationships with each of the children and their parents. I've watched the newborn babies learn to crawl and talk and take baby steps. I've watched the children learn to write their names and count numbers. I've watched watermelons grow in their father's garden. I've watched the goat trails I walk on grow wider and smoother as other friends and family members have joined in on the journey. I've watched the families come to church and build relationships with other church leaders.
I've watched the Lord work in incredible ways, but most of all, I've watched the way that He has turned my confused and devastated heart, into a testimony of His love and hope for the least of these.

Tomorrow I will watch again. Along with over 2,500 other students, 5 of the mountain children will be entering the mission gates to receive an education here at the School of Hope. Over the past week, I spent a lot of my afternoon time with Robenson checking off our lists, meeting with the parents to explain the school schedule, buying last-minute supplies at the market, and outfitting the children in their new uniforms (stay tuned for pictures coming soon!).
Even after all of this, I still can barely absorb that it's actually happening. These children are going to have a chance at something new and marvellous. Indeed, their lives will be forever changed.

So when you read this, wherever you are, I ask you to say a prayer for Peterson (kindergarten), Dida (grade 1), Sonson (grade 3), Marie Rose (grade 3) and Jean Bathel (grade 6). Pray with me that these children will continue to become all that the Lord has made them to be as they embark on this new journey. Pray Luke 2:52 over them, that they may grow in wisdom, stature, and in favour with God and man. Pray that they would love to learn, and that this year would be a new generation of growth, not just for them but for their families as well.
To God be all of the glory, for hearing the cries of His people and for His faithful provision. May He continue to carry out His good work until completion in the lives of these dear children.